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Election season gets feisty
The race between Staten Island GOP Rep. Dan Donovan and his Democratic challenger, Max Rose, is getting lots of attention from political observers, mostly due to Rose’s charisma and fundraising prowess even in the typically red 11th Congressional District.
It’s a race that has some similarities to Seaford Republican Rep. Peter King’s contest with Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley of Amityville in the 2nd Congressional District.
Both contests feature aggressive and energetic Democratic newcomers who have been outraising their opponents. Both Republican incumbents are relatively well-liked and have shied from their party on certain issues, such as taxes. Both districts have more active registered Democrats than Republicans, though registered Conservatives and those not registered with a party are easily numerous enough to keep the areas red.
There hasn’t been recent public polling in Donovan’s race, and it’s not rated as highly competitive as other high-profile districts. But a NY1 debate on Tuesday was plenty feisty. Rose, a decorated Army combat veteran, jabbed at Donovan for his party affiliation. Donovan, a former Staten Island district attorney, tried to come to the middle on issues like immigration, and Rose tried to avoid being painted as uniformly far left while also highlighting progressive issues like his focus on small donors.
That may be the playbook to the east, too, in CD2. King and Grechen Shirley have a number of joint appearances coming up, including a Sayville Civic Association forum Wednesday night.
Battle lines in the education wars
Over the past few years, New York’s Board of Regents has approved some minor changes in the long-standing requirement that high school students must pass five Regents exams to receive a diploma. In 2015, the Regents agreed students graduating with concentrations in technical courses or a few other areas of study could waive one of the history exams. And last year, the board voted to allow special-education students who struggle with academic exams to earn local diplomas by meeting other requirements; one is proficiency in English, math and other subjects as judged by the district superintendent.
Even these tweaks led to some controversy in education circles, with social studies teachers angered by one of their test requirements being loosened, and high-standards advocates arguing against the no-test local diplomas.
But the next look at changing diploma requirements might also be the next big battle in the education wars.
Long Island Regent Roger Tilles said last week he believes the Regents will soon look at starting from scratch on graduation requirements.
“I think it’s worth asking why five Regents is a magic number, and why we think these tests are the way to judge proficiency,” said Tilles, who often fights on the side of more holistic ways of judging students. “I still want state graduation requirements, and we can keep the Regents test, but not as the be-all and end-all of graduation. We need more civic engagement, and things like financial literacy, too.”
The preferences of parents and teachers will decide this fight. As of late, the Regents have been more in tune with those groups than with the measurable-standards-and-rigor crowd.
Opening a potential gate
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy got a phone call Tuesday morning that had him smiling.
The Army Corps of Engineers is coming to his village within the next two weeks to give him and other Freeport officials a presentation of its analysis of his proposal for sea gates to protect the South Shore of Nassau County from flooding.
Kennedy told The Point that he said to the Army Corps, “I’m cautiously optimistic. They said don’t be cautiously optimistic. Be optimistic.”
Kennedy, an engineer, has proposed tidal gates for both entrances of Reynolds Channel — Jones Inlet and East Rockaway Inlet. Last year, he visited similar gates in New Bedford, Mass.
Kennedy said the Army Corps’ presentation will tie together the feasibility of the project with its ecological and financial benefits, and added, “From what I can gather at this point, all three are looking very positive.”
Kennedy said the completed project could serve as a model for larger proposals to protect New York City.
“When the Army Corps makes this presentation,” Kennedy told The Point, “I think the next thing is to make financial arrangements. Everything is looking very good.”